Ladies – what the world wants you to stop doing, right now

 

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The other day I was part of a meeting with a handful of presenters. In the audience was mostly IT folks, 80% were men. For the record, no one was in a suit.

One lady, towards the back, sitting away from everyone else who was seated in rows of tables had, at least, one question for each speaker. Questions are almost always a good thing – it shows you’re engaged and listening – always appreciated by a presenter.

Every time she started her question, I cringed.

Not because she had a question, questions are cool – it was how she started off.

“Sorry, I have a question…”

“I have a question – sorry!”

“Sorry, but…”

The world wants you to stop apologizing and stop saying you’re sorry.

For the love of all things good and holy and wonderful – stop apologizing for nothing!

Listen, ladies, I’m Canadian and I don’t even say sorry that much.

Soar-eeeeeeeee (Canadian translation).

Yes, I’m talking to you ladies. Because in the course of my day, men almost never say they’re sorry. Can you remember the last time a man apologized? Especially for something like – HAVING A QUESTION. Though, some of these men maybe should – another topic for another day.

The incessant apologizing of course, doesn’t always apply to question-asking.

Here’s how these scenes play out:

  • Someone opens a door on the other side when you’re about to go through – sorry!
  • Someone is in your way – sorry!
  • Someone accidentally bumps you – sorry!
  • I don’t agree with you – sorry!
  • I have feedback – sorry!
  • I can’t do the thing / go to the event / help you – sorry!

 

Girls, stop apologizing.

 

First, are you really sorry? Should you be sorry that someone else opened the door at the same time as you? NO! It’s not your fault.

Did you do something wrong?

Did you do something to hurt me?

Unless you just cracked me on the skull – sorry!

If you did, by all means, say you’re sorry (soar-eeee).

Let’s go a little further and look at a definition.

Feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune.

In a poor or pitiful state or condition.

If you didn’t do anything wrong, and unless you truly pity the condition of someone, ‘sorry’ can easily be swapped with this:

 

Excuse me.

 

Simple, elegant and still perfectly unfussy and polite.

Ladies – disagreeing, not having time, having an opinion, opening a door like a synchronistic swimmer, all very good reasons to NOT say you’re sorry.

How would you feel if this post was titled: ‘Sorry ladies, but you really should stop apologizing.’?

Why should you stop?

Starting a statement, any statement, with an apology instantly lowers your credibility and fogs up your message.

We can’t focus on what you’re saying because we’re too busy being on the receiving end of your misplaced sympathy. Why is she sorry? What did she do? Should I be angry?

Oh, she just reached for the salt the same time as me.

Sorry.

Not sorry.

Excuse me.

Your homework. How many times did someone apologize to you today? I’d love to hear your insights. You can email me here.

How to fix a no good, rotten, bad day when everything totally sucks

 

Your alarm goes off at 6 am, you peek at it and wonder how is it even time to get up already, didn’t I just go to sleep?

In the process of turning your alarm off you spill your water all over your night stand. Shit, shit, shit.

You clean it up, hop in the shower where the water takes forever to warm up. You drop the soap, then the razor. Because your hands are so slippery from the soap, you drop the razor exactly ninety times.

You grab the conditioner first instead of the shampoo…grrr. Rinse it out, grab the right bottle, shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse – and get on with your morning.

Off to the kitchen to make your healthy breakfast smoothie – you put in the spinach, the banana, the extra flax seed (cause it’s the kind of day that calls for extra flax), turn it on. CRAP! You left the lid off and there’s smoothie all over your kitchen.

The kids just woke up and have bigfooted their way into the living room, are fighting over what show to watch on television and whining over their breakfast options – cereal, waffles or a bagel.

“But I want scrambled eggs and bacon …WAHHHHH!”

In your head you’re thinking, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!

But you keep your cool.

The ability to keep your cool is an act of willpower akin to taking water from a well. The more water you use up throughout the day, means you’re going to be using dry shampoo tonight.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

So what do you do? You’ve been awake for 20 minutes and you’re thinking about how your day totally sucks already.

Thankfully you get out the door fairly easily, because you’ve read this and started putting some of these into practice already.

At work, you get some feedback on a report you spent the last two Saturday’s working on. No one likes it, they identified a bunch of gaps you didn’t address. It needs A LOT of work.

You check your personal email – it’s an email from the school with the subject, “Lice epidemic – school is closed at 9 am, come get your kids.”

Ugh, could this day get any worse? You wonder.

Yes, yes it can. You have no idea.

If you’re following along, and this sounds like a day you’ve had recently – what happens next? Do you discover you forgot to pack a lunch? Do you get a speeding ticket on your way home? Have to call three people to pick up your kids from school before you finally (and so gratefully) find someone? (True story).
I just want this day to be over already!

 Yes, you could go to bed right now, do not pass Go, and do not collect $200.

You also have all the control in the world to fix what you’re calling, a “bad day.”

 

You can’t control what happens to you in the course of your day, but what you can control is your reaction to what’s happening.

 

The best way to fix a crapola kind of day:

One step. Because minimalism.

When you’re in a good mood (or even in a bad one), make a list of all the things that make you happy. Don’t hold back. You can come up with at least 10. If you can come up with 100, even better. Think: chocolate, watching Dirty Dancing, lighting a candle, journaling, yoga, running, taking a nap, reading a book, hugs, kisses, etc.

When you find yourself in a no good day – bust out your feel good list and pick something. Chances are, just looking at the list is going to make you feel better.

 

 

 

6 ways to have waaaaay more fun while getting out the door in the morning

 

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Here’s a story from my book, Unfussy Mom

I asked my 3-year old to put her boots on at least half a dozen times. I was trying to get the kids dressed, fed, and out the door to school while simultaneously getting myself fed, dressed and off to work. The clock was ticking.

After waiting 20 minutes, and still no boots–I blew up.

I yelled, chucked her boots across the room, stormed out, and told her I’d be waiting in the car.

By the time I got to the car I felt like a huge jerk. I took a deep breath, stared up at the sky like I was asking for strength to just get through the rest of the morning.

When I came back inside after taking a chill-pill, my 6-year old son was helping her; calm, patient, and kind. All the things I wish I was. I felt like the worst human ever, then I stopped beating myself up–he must have learned that somewhere. Hopefully, it was from me.

I continued on to drop them off at school, and head to work. During my train ride, I wrote them both an apology letter.

Fast forward to dinner that night.

I wrote an apology letter to each kid just before dinner. Then I told my 6-year old how proud I was of him—he handled himself like a grown-up—a nice one.

 

“Where’d you learn that?” I asked.

“My teacher,” He replied.

“Oh, you mean I’m not calm and quiet?” I prodded.

“No mommy, you yell.”

“But not all the time right?” Really searching for some validation that I’m not a total failure.

“No.”

 

I wish I could tell you I didn’t have another episode like this, or that it was an isolated incident. I’d be lying through my wine-stained teeth.

I learned a hard lesson as I sat there squeezed into my pencil skirt.

Why am I rushing out the door and screaming at the kids just to go to a meeting? The world isn’t going to end if I’m a few minutes late – or even if I missed a meeting.

Priorities, that’s why. And mine were messed up.

Now, I’m learning to slow down. If the kids need an extra hug before they feel good enough to go off to school for the day, I’m going to give it to them. Then I’m going to go to work, and do it well.

 

 

The morning rush

How many days are you running around with your head cut off just trying to get out the door, wearing pants, making sure everyone else is wearing (clean-ish) pants, is fed and has all the signed school forms ready to go in their backpacks?

You work five days a week, sooo … five days a week, right?

You have to get out the door anyway, so you may as well make it easy on yourself, right?

Here are 6 ways to make getting out the door in the morning fun:

  1. Reset your expectations

 

If your goal is to just make every morning feel easy and fun, keep this goal in mind as you move through the morning.

 

  1. Get your butt out of bed earlier

 

Sorry, not sorry – you knew I was going to say this right? If part of the reason you can’t get out the door without screaming and yelling and running around like a sweaty psycho, maybe getting up earlier will help.

 

  1. Do it all at night

 

Doing as much as you can at night will make the morning so much easier. Make lunches, pack bags, but them by the door, or heck—put them in the car! Having cereal? Pour it the night before? Smoothie? Make it the night before. Shower at night, and lay everything out for the next morning, including have your kids pick their clothes out. Heck, if having the kids sleep in their next-day clothes—by all means, go for it! You can even go as far as putting the toothpaste on your brush at night.

 

  1. No electronics

This means TV, video games, or email. I’m totally guilty of asking my kids to dress 10 times while they’re staring at the television. Mornings started going much more smoothly when we instituted a no TV or games rule in the morning. Instead, they focus on eating breakfast and getting ready. If they have spare time, they start coloring or drawing.

 

The no email rule is for you. Stay present and you’ll be in tune with what’s happening and not start mentally doing all your work and running your to-do list in your head before you even leave the house.

 

  1. Dance it out

 

When I started playing music in the morning I noticed a shift in everyone’s moods. Try a happy playlist like this. Play it softly as background music to set the tone for the day.

You can also play this and guarantee an amazing start. Just try to be a fussy mess listening to this song.

 

  1. Mimosa anyone?

 

I’m not telling you to start day-drinking or show up to the office with a buzz. It’s more of a “mimosa-mindset.” By all means, have some champagne if you like, or, drink your OJ in a champagne flute, green juice in a wine glass. Put your toast on a nice plate, sit down, eat it, and (gasp) talk to your family.

 

 

Speak to Lisa

 

 

In the third grade, I had to give a speech in front of the entire school. The THIRD GRADE folks. I was 8.

It was a speech about Florida. You know, where all good Canadians go on vacation.

This is likely when my fear of public speaking kicked in.

I prepared for weeks. Wrote my speech out on cue cards, over and over again until the print was so tiny I could barely read it.

I was so nervous. When talking to Lisa, a fourth grader about this ahead of time, she said, “If you get nervous, just look at me.”

Not really sure what she meant, I got up there, in front of all 300 other kids (I didn’t say I went to a BIG school – it was everyone in Canada don’t you know).

My mouth was like cotton balls, I just wanted it to be over. Out of breath before I even started, I found Lisa in the gymnasium crowd. She told me to look at her if I was nervous right?

I found her.

She was bright eyed, sitting up straight, calm smile, head tilted to the side. She looked like she was interested in what I was saying. A friendly face.

Oh, okay. I get it now. I’ll give my speech to Lisa.

Since then, I’ve stumbled my way through many a presentation. None of these stumblings were so bad, however, that I can recall any of these details today.

If I can’t remember, I’m pretty sure my audience doesn’t remember either.

See, I was all worried about how my presentation would come off. The single biggest realization that has helped me to relax?

Everyone is so busy worrying about themselves, they’re not going to remember my screw-ups 10 years, or even 10 minutes from now. 

Also, I’m the one in the arena, not them.

Today, I give presentations all the time, and I still don’t like it.

But you know what? I do it anyway.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable takes constant and deliberate practice.

Hate speaking in front of groups? Here’s what I’ve learned in the 30 or so years since the third grade to un-suck speeches:

  1. Regardless of whether you’re giving a speech to 3 people or 3,000, craft it with one person in mind. You’re having a conversation with one person.
  2. Power-pose. Wonder woman poses totally happen in the bathroom. Thanks, Amy Cuddy. 
  3. Only speak about things you care about and know deeply. If I asked you to tell me about where you grew up, you’d tell me without missing a beat. But what if I asked you to give a speech on financial planning and you’re a yoga instructor? Kind of makes you want to vomit, right? Stick to what you know.
  4. Before taking the podium, hitting the stage, commanding the front of the room, say to yourself, “I’m here for my power, please.” I feel like an asshat saying this to myself, but trust me, it works. Thanks, Danielle LaPorte. 
  5. Don’t practice. Of course, this is what works for me. If I practice, I forget everything when it comes time to open my mouth. Instead, I make notes on important points to hit and trust that whatever comes out when I start to speak is what is meant to come out.
  6. Sit down. If it makes sense for the energy of your speech, sitting down will be perfectly appropriate for an intimate feel.
  7. Find your Lisa, and talk directly to her.

 

“Fuller House” is no longer a family show

Image Credit: Michael Yarish/Netflix

PUBLIC SAFETY ALERT: “FULLER HOUSE” IS NOT A FAMILY SHOW

Did you bust out your neon fanny packs and choker necklaces and binge watch Fuller House on Netflix this weekend?

I did.

Less the fanny pack and choker necklace of course, and add wine, plaid pajamas, and fleece blanket.

Before I tell you anything about the show, let’s first talk about Uncle Jesse – Mr. John Stamos. I need to tell you he has aged better than a bottle of 100-year-old port. I’m pretty sure he has more hair, and let’s just all sit here and pretend we don’t know that he’s now 52.

And just wait until you see the episode of Jesse & The Rippers crooning out, “Forever”—Goosebumps for all the wine-slugging, couch-surfing ladies!

The whole cast is back except Michelle – you know, the, “you got it dude” Olson twins, who are (according to a line in the first episode), “busy running their fashion empire.” They nod to this in the first episode for an awkward amount of time. Painful.

Uber-cheesy, and there’s always a lesson though the lessons in the 90s were much clearer.

I was having fun at first, but it quickly turns into a show I wouldn’t have been allowed to watch in the 90s. It’s definitely not as wholesome as I remember. In the first episode, there’s more skin than any shitty soap opera.

The first episode laid on the nostalgia thick, but it was quickly downhill from there when Danny, Joe, Jesse and Rebecca all leave for their new jobs and we’re left with DJ (widowed) and her 3 boys, Kimmie (kinda-sorta-divorced), and her daughter, and middle Tanner daughter Stephanie.

DJ is the type A, trying to do it all, frazzled working mom. She should read the chapter in my book about putting on her oxygen mask first and ask for help. Her husband died in the line of firefighting-duty, so she single-handedly runs a veterinary clinic and has three boys. Ummm, busy-much?

Thankfully Stephanie, her younger sister steps in and moves in with her. The 30-something who’s single, and has no money. Though she’s made it as a professional DJ and travels the world sipping champagne. Huh?

It was fun to have something to watch on TV on Friday night that wasn’t one of the kids’ painful favorite shows these days – Kickin’ it, Daniel Tiger, or Jessie. The kids had some rolling on the floor fits of laughter though at some of the one-liners from DJs boys.

All the catchphrases you didn’t know you missed all make their reappearance:

You got it, dude.

How rude!

Cut. It. Out. Complete with hand gestures.

Damn, I look good.

SPOILER: It’s not the same show from the 90s.

It’s NOT a family show.

The 2016 “fuller” version features:

  • Language like, “damn, hell, sexy, and knockers”—earmuffs kids!
  • Bottle service at dance clubs
  • Tequila shots for everyone!
  • Cleavage down to your belly button
  • A dance scene in the second episode that feels like I’m in a strip club—cover your eyes kids!

I’m not exactly sure who the intended audience for the show is now – is it the ladies who watched it who are now in their 30s? Is it our children? Because I don’t think my kids should be watching it.

Like the original series, there’s always an important lesson and everyone is happy at the end of every episode. Some important lessons we’re learning from the Tanner sisters in 2016:

  • Life is way more fun when you put the electronics down and have fun
  • Mommy needs a break too
  • Mommy likes margaritas
  • Donald Trump is a bad word
  • It really does take a village
  • You can’t do it all

 

The best part – memories of this … and then this – (and why does he have a mullet in 2013???)

 

 

Put your “power suit” away

 

When I see a man in a suit I don’t think he’s powerful. I think one of two things:

  1. He’s trying to impress someone and he doesn’t really want to wear this.
  2. He’s going to a funeral.

Obviously, I’ve never been that girl to swoon over a man in a 3-piece-suit. Except in the first few minutes after I met Ryan, and had this image of him walking around Manhattan in a well-fitting suit—turned out it was all a fantasy.

I no longer venture to call the traditional pressed pants, suit jacket and tie, a “power suit”.

I call it an ego suit.

Know what I think when I walk into a room of men in suits and there’s that one man at the table. No tie.

When I see him—he’s the one I want to sit next to.

I want to be his friend.

You know why? Because by sitting next to suits in something that instead, makes him feel good, he says, screw conformity.

He also says, screw ties, they’re uncomfortable. Just like I say screw you pencil skirt – you’re uncomfortable, you sausage-making piece of fabric!

Some of the other men poke fun at him, “Where’s your tie?” they prod. These men are uncomfortable and making a side nod to their own act of sheepish conformity.

“I hate ties, so I don’t wear them.” The tieless man everyone is curious about says.

Kinda like this guy.

 

Maybe we should all blame the Dos Equis guy for blazing a tie-free trail, bearded almost-full beer in hand.

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Or maybe we can blame this guy?

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Where’d the term, “power suit” come from anyway? The 80s?

How does dressing like everyone else make you powerful?

Even for women. When I walk into a meeting and the women are so cautiously dressed I used to be intimidated. Partly because they have a sense of style and I clearly don’t.

Power suits are cool if they make you feel, well – powerful. If you just LOVE wearing a suit and tie, or it’s part of your uniform that you’re expected to wear – awesome! No, really – if you love it, rock it.

But what if your power suit makes you uncomfortable? Like a pair of too tight Spanx crammed into an even tighter skirt. Hello – 10 pounds of sausage stuffed into a 5-pound bag.

What if yoga pants make you feel powerful? What about plaid? Seriously, I want to know this because I really like plaid.

After my last corporate job, I threw out every single article of clothing that didn’t make me feel wonderful. Donated, gone.

If I wear something all day and I don’t feel great – a little off – a little constrictive – It’s out – off to the donation pile. I don’t have the patience to spend my energy looking after articles of clothing that don’t light me up.

So dudes – when you lose the tie – you’re like the woman in white at the big meeting, quiet and confidently sitting at the head of the table.

You’ll stand out. Only a little. But in the best way. In the kind of way that makes people raise an eyebrow, and watch.

But, that’s not why you’re doing it. You’re choosing to feel comfortable in your own power.

Silently, they’re checking you out. Because you had the cajones (ovaries) to take something that’s expected of you–and leave it at home, or in the car, or in your office – or on the rack at Nordstrom.

So, men, I invite you to define your own power suit. And leave the one the last few hundred years or so of history has so boringly dictated to you.

 

 

Think you can’t find love in a (dive) bar? – think again

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If you’ve been hanging out with me here for a while you know how hubby Ryan and I got engaged. It involved writing … of course.

Today, let’s go back to the beginning.

When I was trying very hard to be wild and crazy.

This is a long one friends. Grab a latte, or pour yourself a big glass of champagne and settle in.

I was 22, which is pretty much too old to go on family vacations. My parents asked me to go, along with my younger (not as cool as me), sister. And well, it was free. I said yes.

Usually at dinner my dad and I would split a bottle of wine, leaving my mom to drive us back to our beach hotel. Once back at the hotel, occasionally my mom and sister would come with us for a drink, especially if there was a live band playing.

You could count on them to duck out early though and leave my dad and I to close the place.

It was after midnight, and my dad and I were wrapping up with our Corona’s at Ricky T’s beach bar and thought we’d check out the bar next door; The VIP Lounge, a Mexican restaurant and dive-ish bar (though its much nicer today).

While we were at Ricky T’s I noticed a group of guys about my age walk into the VIP Lounge. This was a tourist spot so there were lots of people around.

I kinda, sorta noticed the guy with the tattoos. Soft gray t-shirt, jeans, flip-flops, dark rimmed glasses. Strong, handsome. He didn’t look like my usual “type”. I never paid any attention to dudes under 6-feet tall?

My dad suggested I go into the VIP and grab a seat while he signed the bill and went pee.

I walked into the VIP – smoky (this is when you could smoke in bars), brass, people doing shots, neon lights, and behind the bar was lined with photos of what looked to be the VIP’s favorite customers.

I sat next to the dude with the dark rimmed glasses and tattoos. I may have muttered, “Hi” – I really don’t remember. And exchanged names.

“I’m Ryan.”

He didn’t look like a Ryan. I hope I can remember this name.

We didn’t strike up a conversation right away, but he was smoking Marlboro menthols – my favorite at the time. What’s a girl to do? I poked poking fun at him for smoking menthols and asked him for one.

Tattoo-dude, told me he was from New York, and he worked at this place called Bloomberg. I didn’t admit it to him at the time but I didn’t know what Bloomberg was. I was a recent marketing grad and working for a major Canadian retailer.

My mind turned to fantasy, and I imagined him walking the streets of New York in a 3-piece suit, tie, his signature dark rimmed glasses and looking oh-so-suave.

Thinking about the dark rimmed glasses and crisp, dark suit covering the tattoos and smoking was pretty hot.

We chatted about work, what we love about it, he thought it was cool that I was Canadian. He thought Canadian was ethnic. Hilarious.

My dad joined us and sat to my right; Ryan to my left. My dad and I would exchange comments here and there but weren’t overly engaged in any kind of exhilarating conversation.

Now that we’re married, Ry later tells me that he thought I was a hooker (a HOOKER, you guys!), and my dad, was a customer. I wish I was kidding.

Now, remember I was on a family vacation. I was wearing a knee length jean skirt and white V-neck tank top. Hardly inappropriate. Because he noticed my dad and I at the other bar, saw me alone in the VIP, then this old man rejoined me at the VIP and we barely spoke, he thought this old man was an unwelcome guest.

He tells me after we’ve been dating that he was about to tell my dad to piss off and leave me alone when I stopped mid-conversation, realizing I hadn’t introduced them, and said, “Oh, Ryan, meet my dad – Tony.”

They shook hands and proceeded to converse more than tattooed glasses guy and I were. I was drunk a little tipsy at the time, and so was my dad. I definitely wasn’t looking at this situation as, “I’m trying to pick this guy up.”

The three of us enjoyed lively conversation until the bar closed.

I learned tattoo guy was entertaining some of his mothers’ friends’ kids, and kind of took them out as a favor. He was sober as he was their designated driver for the night. His mom lived in Florida and he was visiting her for Mother’s day. How sweet!

When we were ready to part ways I told him there was a good bar around the corner that has live music and I’d be there tomorrow night, I suggested he join us.

We stood up to leave. Holy shit, he’s shorter than me. I had flip flops on that had a smidge of a platform.

Well, I guess we’re done.

At that time, I had a thing about shorter guys. My McDreamy was tall, dark and handsome. NOT short, thick and needs SPF 90.

I’d never been to NY, and he offered to show me around if I ever decided to visit. He gave me a business card, and I wrote my number drunkenly with lipstick on the back of it while my dad sat drunk on the curb outside the bar and waited for us to make our exchange.

 

The next day

I really did drink too much the night before, I was sick most of the morning. Oh to be 22!

Early in the afternoon though, I got a phone call from him. He said he was at the beach with his mom and he was looking at a hotel that was a few doors down from where we were staying.

“Oh cool” I said. Not clicking that he was there to SEE ME. DUH. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I was feeling super crappy and hungover so I didn’t even entertain the idea of going to the beach.

I thought he was calling to chat about meeting at the bar later to listen to the band. I told him roughly when I’d be there and I’d see him later. He said he’d try to make it. I was leaving to go home the next day.

My mom, dad, sister and me were at the bar listening to the live music. My mom wanted to see this tattooed glasses short dude. I kept watching the door for a sign of him, but didn’t see him. He was a no show.

Oh well – he was too short for me anyway.

Eventually we left, packed up, and headed home the next day not giving the whole event much thought.

 

Two weeks later

Sitting at work one day, feeling a little bored and listless – I felt the urge to send him an email. I jokingly gave him crap for not coming out to the bar to meet me that night.

He told me he fell asleep at his mom’s around 10 pm that night, having the intention to meet me, and woke up the next morning when it was too late. He also admitted the awkwardness of coming out alone to join me and my whole family at a bar. Doesn’t he know that Canadians are super friendly?

He also told me he was about to send me an email but got mine first. Was he lying? Maybe, I’ll never know. It doesn’t matter.

We quickly fell into a habit of having day long email communications, back and forth all day long while we sat at our respective offices in NY and Toronto.

I’d get home from work and head straight to MSN messenger and chat until bed time. We’d text during our respective train commutes into our respective cities. We spent the better portion of our day communicating electronically. I loved when I’d see a new email pop up from him. Sometimes we’d have multiple email threads going on – my favorite!

One night he asked, “Would a phone call be out of the question?”

ACK! This is real now, he actually wants to talk to me? On the phone! What are we going to talk about? Oh, this is going to be totally awkward.

He called me, our landline (remember those?) made that special ring when it was coming from a long distance number. Flutters.

We’re chatting. We’re flirting.

A few days later, after spending the night at a friend’s house.

Ry and I were chatting on MSN messenger while the rest of the girls were lounging and nursing hangovers from $1 drinks. I had forgotten what he looked like, I met him once, only for a few hours, in a dark bar, and did I mention I was tipsy?

He sent me this black and white photo. Wow.

Would you visit the Adirondacks with this guy?

I showed my girlfriends – what do you think? The general consensus was positive – he was a winner.

Then, he asks, “My family has a cabin in the Adirondacks – I think it’s halfway in between us, maybe we could meet there?”

I turned to the girls, “Guys! He wants to meet at his cabin in NY! Should I go?”

They freaked, “You’re nuts”, “You don’t know him”, “What if he’s a crazy psycho killer?”

Then someone said, “Do it.”

“I’m doing it.” I say as I quickly type back to him, “Sure!” It felt so very Meg Ryan you have mail-ish.

I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind for the rest of the day – or the next week.

Before the trip, I later told my dad, “Remember that guy we met in the bar in Florida? Well I’m going to his cabin in NY.”

I don’t recall my dad giving me any shit. If that was Talia I’d be like OH THE HELL YOU ARE MISS THANG!
The trip that changed everything

For the next few weeks he told me all the things we’d do there – totally clean people. We’d go to the beach, hiking, boating, eat ice cream by the lake, enjoy the cottage town, then get drunk on apple martinis by the campfire. Appletini’s were totally our signature drink back then – they went so well with the Marlboro menthols in those early days of our relationship.

I packed up my blue 2001 Honda prelude with some cottage gear, stopped at Old Navy for some flip flops that didn’t have a platform, left work early and hit the road towards the Buffalo border.

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“Where are you going?” The US border patrol guard asked me.

“Old Forge.” I respond.

“Where’s that?” He probes on.

“I have no idea.” My honest answer.

We texted along the way, coordinating our arrival times. This was before the days of google maps – so I had a printout of the MapQuest directions on the passenger seat.
The plan was to meet in an Old Navy parking lot off of the I-90 at exit 31, Utica, NY.

You might be wondering if I was freaking out.

In a word, yes!

The whole ride there. As I munched gummy bears and sipped diet coke, I totally freaked out.

This is nuts, what if he’s a psycho?

What if he’s ugly?

What if he thinks I’m ugly?

What if we have nothing to talk about?

What if he’s boring?

What if he’s going to bring me out to the woods to kill me?

 

Second First Impressions

As planned, we met in the Old Navy parking lot – he arrived first.

Shit – do I hug him? I mean we’ve flirted for like a month and spent 100 hours on MSN messenger typing out more smiley faces than a 12-year old girl.

We hugged, and after being the car for so long, we both had to use the bathroom so we ran into Old Navy.

Holy awkward batman.

We were IN THE FLESH. No more MSN Messenger, texting, emails. Person-to-person. I can’t hide now.

We still had another hour to go to get to the cabin. He had directions, I was to follow him.

I drove behind him, continuing my freak out and running all kinds of scenarios through my head.

 

So Canadian of me

We arrived at the cabin, it was cute – very rustic, not the kind of cabin I was used to – but I didn’t quite know what to expect anyway.

He had to hook something up outside to get water or gas or something, I have no fucking clue. I just stood there watching. I might have held the flashlight for him.

Then I saw it.

He bent over and a hand gun peeked out from the waistband of his jeans.

The first thought popping into my head – RUN! Get in the car, don’t say a word, and drive like hell.

See, Canadians don’t have guns. Canadian border patrol agents only started carrying them in 2007. I was 22, naïve, and totally ignorant about gun culture.

Finally, I mustered, “What is that?” Obviously knowing what it was, but I wanted to make sure he knew I saw it.

Ryan says, “A pistol – I’m in the woods.” As if it’s a totally normal explanation.

“Oh, ok.” I answer sarcastically. “Can you leave that thing in the car until we leave?” I ask.

“What good will it do in the car?” He argues.

“Just do it.”

He obliges, we go out to dinner, and drink way too many appletinis that night.

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The next morning, I emerge from the room to see something I only thought I existed in my dreams. I dream about this stuff you guys.

There’s a deer with its front hooves in the cabin. In one hand, Ryan is feeding him our gummy bears and appletinis. In the other, a pistol to the deer’s head.

Yep.

“What are you doing?!” I yell.

“In case he bucks.” He calmly responds.

This ladies, is marriage material.

I knew there was something about this guy, something different. And not just the tattoos or the glasses, or the way he commands a pistol at a wild animal’s head (sarcasm.)

That first weekend was amazing. I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to leave.

As the weekend drew to a close, we headed south towards Utica and took our turns to go our separate ways.

Ryan – eastbound, towards Albany.

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Me – westbound, towards Buffalo.

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By the time I returned home we had plans for our next meeting, and the meeting after that, and another one a few weeks out – just in case.

Until that one trip to Toronto that involved three very special love notes and changed everything.

Happy Valentine’s day friends.

Happy 12th anniversary Ryan.

I love you.

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Why we’re all desperately waiting for you to stop complaining about work

 

Well, mostly because it’s annoying.

If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you get three complaints, then I unfollow you. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

I’m not keeping an excel spreadsheet logged with your name and complaints, but if I see you complaining, and can’t remember the last nice thing you said – au revior!

Puppies, unicorns and rainbows – always welcome. So are memes that tell me how drinking wine every day is good for me and chocolate makes me smarter and more good looking.

 

Here’s the scripts running through my head while you’re whining about work:

  1. Just yesterday you said you loved your job – which is it?
  2. Are you being forced to work there? I didn’t think so. Do something else, or stop complaining.
  3. Is it really that bad? Find something you’re grateful for first. It might stop your complaining in its tracks.
  4. All the time you’re spending complaining could be spent doing something productive. Or the exact thing you’re complaining about – hop to it!
  5. I’m trying to stay positive, and your negative thoughts are ruining my juju.
  6. I just want you to be happy – really, I do. Can I help?
  7. Because you’re not good at it anyway, go do something you’re good at.
  8. Because we know that there’s power in acceptance. Can you find just a smidge of love in what you’re doing right now? It’ll make every day better – promise. Cross my heart.
  9. They’re paying you right? That money is supporting you, your dreams, even if you’re using that money to build another dream. Either way – you’re supported.
  10. Gratitude creates more reasons to be grateful and what we focus on expands.
  11. How do you want to feel at work? Create the experience you want to experience.
  12. Want some help with your resume? Just ask.
  13. Womp, womp, womp, womp … what was that? You lost me at, “UGH!”

 

Hate your job?

Do you really?

I mean, really hate it.

Can you find just three good things about your job?

Maybe it’s as simple as:

  • I get paid
  • I talk to grown ups
  • We have Starbucks in the building

 

Focus on what’s working. Gratitude begets gratitude, and joy expands. If you can find a few things to be happy about, focus on those. Then multiply them.

Maybe you hate what you’re doing – but you met some really cool people and learned some great skills that will make your resume sparkle.

Or maybe you love that you get to leave work at work, and never take it home with you, or it allows you the freedom to buy a latte every day, buy a new car every three years, flexible working hours, and cake on your birthday.

Finding a few good things will make you feel happier, which will make you less of a jerk to be around. Less of a jerk = more friends = people are happier to be around you = better work day = job doesn’t suck so bad.

If you simply cannot find a few redeeming qualities about your job, I’m guessing, they’re not forcing you to work there.

Yes, of course you can say, “But I need a job I can’t find another one.”

Is that true? Have you actually tried to find another job? How hard did you really look?

Even if you’ve been looking for three months or three years – you just haven’t found the right one yet. Hang on. Your dream job is there. Or you already have it – and you just haven’t realized it yet.

You have choices:

  1. Accept it
  2. Make it better
  3. Quit, and / or find another job
  4. Do nothing – many people forget; this is a choice.

 

What will you do today, instead of complaining about work?

 

 

Death upsets us because it reminds us of our own mortality

Photo courtesy of https://joaomalaquias.wordpress.com/

Photo courtesy of https://joaomalaquias.wordpress.com/

Driving into work on a sub-zero Monday morning preparing for a busy week – feeling a little groggy – so I treated myself to a hazelnut soy latte, (no foam, please) on my way in. I knew it was going to be a long week.

I had no idea.

It’s 7 am when I get to the office. I say good morning, plop my latte down and unpack my computer when my phone starts buzzing.

It’s my dad. He just called last night asking if we fixed the furnace. I figured he was calling again because he found a new reason why I should replace my furnace right now.

It had nothing to do with the furnace.

Hello?

Vovó died.

WHAT? I respond. Like I want him to say it again, but not really.

What happened? Is all I could muster – shocked and unprepared. I didn’t rehearse this one in my head yet.

See, she was healthy. She was 91. I feel incredibly lucky to have had a grandmother in my life as long as I did – and that my kids will remember their great grandmother.

Immediately, I felt the uncontrollable need to pack up my stuff, hop in the car and head straight there. Do not pass go, do not stop at the border – just go.

I didn’t quite do that – family, logistics, etc., but I did leave the next morning – packing up the kids and headed out for an eight-hour drive.

Sweetness

The kids experienced the death of two of their dogs, and one of their goldfish in the past year. So they’ve experienced some loss from death, however, this was the first family death we’ve experienced.

I had a lot of uncertainties.

Enter all the questions…

  • How do I tell them?
  • Will they get upset?
  • Should they come to the funeral?
  • Should they come to the viewing? What should we do at the viewing? Should I let them see her?

I trusted my gut and was open and honest about as much of the whole event as made sense.

When I came home from work and told the kids, they got upset.

Not because they were necessarily upset about their grandmother, but because it upset talking me to tell them about it.

Each kid handled the events of the next few days differently. Jacob – 7, kept his distance, asked a few questions. Talia – 4 was very curious and had many, many questions. At the viewing she wanted to go up and see her several times, touch her. She wanted me to touch her first. Which I don’t particularly feel the need to, but did it to show Talia it wasn’t scary.

I told the kids it’s not scary, and the body is just a shell. A former house for the soul.

 

A place where consciousness used to live.

 

It wasn’t until after we arrived home I had another perspective to think about. Ry talked to the kids about it again, echoing all the things they’ve heard from us over the past few days.

We discussed how people get sad and upset when people die. Then Ry said something that made me pause…

“People only get so upset when someone dies because it reminds them of their own mortality.”

It’s a reminder that we too, will all die.

I mean, of course I know I’ll die… in the future, elusive, “someday” when I’m 108, while drinking a glass of wine.

Of course, it could also be later today. Or next week. Or next month.

 

I got curious. Is that really why I was upset?

Was I upset because seeing death reminds me of my own – is this true? When someone dies we’re not sad for them. We’re sad for ourselves, we feel sad when we think about the loss of people closest to them.

SO…what happens when we’re reminded of our own mortality?

We realize it could be us. Any day. Any minute. The next inhale might not come.

We start questioning how we’re spending our time.

How we’re interacting with people.

How we’re harboring resentments, and hate…and for what?

How much time we’re spending with the people we love.

We didn’t make it up to visit the family, including vovó for Christmas this year – one of my favorite holidays with my grandparents growing up.

The thought entered my mind that I should have gone up for Christmas this year. I tried to regret it.

Something was pulling me there, that place of regret and resentment. Except I didn’t go there this time.

Would living with this regretful thought serve me? Would it change anything? Could I find a good reason to keep thinking this way?

NO – I couldn’t. So I let it go.

When we’re reminded of our own death we might say no to a project that doesn’t excite us. We’ll cuddle on the couch for an extra 30 minutes and let the dishes (the vacuuming, and the laundry) wait.

We’re kinder. We’re present. We live in the moment. What other way is there to live? Living in our pasts doesn’t serve us, and constantly worrying about what could have been or should have been doesn’t serve us.

I hesitated to write this initially. But I was curious to explore the thought.

I started to write my thoughts, then put this piece down. Then, earlier this week, when I got to work something went flying out of my purse – I looked around and couldn’t see what it was. Later when reaching for my hand cream to fix my dry, January hands, I noticed something shiny and gold. It was one off vovó’s pins. My uncle offered up some of her sweaters and coats to the family, and she had a pin on just about every sweater and jacket she owned.

I picked this piece of writing back up and committed to finishing it.

Memento mori.

Photo courtesy of https://joaomalaquias.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy of https://joaomalaquias.wordpress.com

 

I wish every day was like Christmas

ChristmasFeeling

 

I wish every day could be like this.

I wish every day was like Christmas.

Of course, I love the tree, cheese-ball songs, glitter, mulled wine and Starbucks red cups (which by the way, I loved the minimalist design this year – thank-you-very-much).

 

More than I actually love the things of Christmas…

 

I love the feelings these things bring.

 

And if that’s the case – well, why the hell can’t every day be like Christmas?

On a pragmatic level – keeping up the Elf on a Shelf and Santa business for more than a month is exhausting.

This year, our Elf, Chippy – only moved at 7am, and not the night before like she’s supposed to – hearing the kids get up to go elf-hunting was my trigger to move the elf. I streaked through the house too many times to note this year.

Also, she didn’t go back to the North Pole one Saturday night. The degenerate drank too much at a holiday party and thought she might have been roofied. Silly elf.

Also, if you sat around in you PJs and watched the kids open presents every day you’d be bored as shit – right?

Right.

 

Back to the feelings of Christmas.

How does Christmas feel?

 

A few days before Christmas I was worried we were all going to hate each other by the end of the week. So much together time with no schedule, plenty of junk food, trying to get everything done in time, and feeling sad for not being home with the rest of my family for Christmas.

I’m worried we’re all going to hate each other by the end of the week.

 

See, with this thought I was setting myself up for a shit time. As soon as those words left my mouth I knew I had to shift my shit (thanks Al & Stef), and tell a different story.

A better story.

A story that would make me feel good.

This was my new and improved pre-Christmas story –

I’m looking forward to all the great times we’re going to spend together over Christmas. I’m excited for warm hugs, lots of excitement and cuddles and enjoying the magic of the season with my family.

Then, I told myself the story as if it already happened in a journal entry…

Christmas was SO AMAZING, we had such a great time. I loved every minute of the time we spent together. We relaxed, the kids were over the moon excited and grateful for all their gifts, the day was unrushed and perfect. Everyone was happy, calm, and peaceful.

 

Just telling this story made me feel good, and energized me to move forward.

 

 

What would your life be like if you could tell a story like this one every single day?

How would you feel?

This friends, is the building block of an amazing life.

One that feels like Christmas every damn day of the year.

How do you want to feel today? Right now? Next week? This year?

It’s more than just the cliché of finding the silver lining in every dark cloud – It’s seeking out the story that will make you feel the best and deliberately choosing those thoughts.

 

Effectively, writing your life story.

 

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Want more?
– Does writing letters to people you care about make you feel good? Try this.

– Or how about some un-random acts of kindness?

– Looking to create your 2016 reading list?